Using Off-target Parameters to Measure Power Supply Stability

Babatunde Raji Fashola

Business/Energy/Perspective Page

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, recently disclosed that some cities in Nigeria can now boast of constant power supply.

Fashola, said this during a session on the Sunrise Daily programme of Channels Television. He specifically stated: “Sitting down here I can tell you some states that have almost 24 hours – Kebbi, Yobe. Some have five, some have 10 and there are still outages.”

The minister claimed the constant power supply some of these states reportedly enjoy was due to the increase in the transmission capacity which he noted had gone up to 8,100 megawatts (MW) as at December 2018.

He equally added: “The generation capacity is also increasing,” but quickly stated, “it is a value chain where the distribution is not matching up the available power and from time to time, there are slacks.”

But in a swift reaction to Fashola’s claims, the senator representing Kaduna central, Mr. Shehu Sani, stated that the states the minister said were enjoying almost 24 hours power supply are in other planets of the universe and not in Nigeria.

In a tweet from his twitter handle, Sani, disputed Fashola’s claims, saying: “Some of the states that now enjoy 24 hours of electricity are Uranus, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and Neptune.”

Based on the claims and the reaction it has generated, THISDAY analysed the state of affairs in Nigeria’s power sector on the day the minister made the claims.

It discovered that while his claims may be true especially with regards to supply in Yola, capital of Adamawa State where residents confirmed that supply had been stable, his hype of development using the Yola and Kaduna distribution networks which serve Kebbi and Yobe States could be off the mark.

And, this is chiefly because the population of electricity users within the networks he referred to when compared to others in the country cannot be said to be large enough to determine the true situation of power supply currently.

For instance, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), which is statutorily saddled with the task of regulating operations in the country’s power sector, stated that as at December 2018, the total number of registered electricity users in the country was 8,310,408, out of which the two Discos – Kaduna and Yola, which supply the states Fashola quoted, have 543,654 and 346,342 of the registered electricity users in the entire country.

Collectively, both Discos have a total of 889,996 electricity users within their networks, a number that is less than the 910,465 registered electricity users under Ikeja Disco; 973,926 in Abuja Disco; 1,693,346 in Ibadan Disco or 938,311 in Enugu Disco.

These Discos have more industries; homes and offices that consume large volumes of electricity, more than Yola and Kaduna Discos, and thus any measurement of power stability should consider their situation ahead of those the minister chose to use.

Again, on March 27, 2019, the same day the minister made the claim, records obtained from the Advisory Power Team in the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, indicated that the average energy sent out to all the 11 Discos to distribute to homes and offices was 4,458MW, while 2,103MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas.

Additionally, 138.7MW was not generated due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, while 867.5MW was not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure, and 150MW not gotten due to water management issues.

This further suggests that with 2,103MW production shut-in for that day as a result of unavailability of gas, and 867.5MW due to distribution issues, distribution cannot be said to be the real problem why all the electricity that Nigeria could generate for that day could not be achieved but lack of gas supply to the power generation companies (Gencos) to produce all that they are able to.